‘Black stu­dents worse off than in the 1980s’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - NOMASWAZI NKOSI nomaswazi.nkosi@inl.co.za

STATISTICIAN-Gen­eral Dr Pali Le­hohla, pic­tured, has said South Africa’s ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions must fo­cus on sup­port­ing the black stu­dents en­ter­ing them and that long-time fail­ing stu­dents should be re­moved to “un­block the sys­tem”.

Le­hohla said there should be more black peo­ple go­ing to univer­sity each year, but in­stead of 200 000 there were only 47 000, and of those who did go, few succeeded.

This pointed to the high univer­sity dropout rate among black peo­ple, he said in his sub­mis­sions to the Fees Com­mis­sion sit­ting at the City of Tsh­wane Coun­cil Cham­bers in Cen­tu­rion yes­ter­day.

“Blacks do not suc­ceed when they are at univer­sity. Back in the 1980s, blacks were suc­ceed­ing but now they’re not.”

He said that in the 1980s, for ev­ery black per­son suc­ceed­ing there were 1.2 white peo­ple suc­ceed­ing. Now the ra­tio was one black per­son to six whites.

In his tes­ti­mony, Le­hohla said black South Africans were still liv­ing through the af­ter­math of the legacy of apartheid.

He said when Hen­drik Ver­wo­erd said it was no use teach­ing a black child math­e­mat­ics when he could not use it in prac­tice, and es­tab­lished the Bantu Ed­u­ca­tion Act, it crip­pled black and coloured peo­ple, while white peo­ple and In­di­ans were able to flour­ish; In­di­ans be­cause of their en­tre­pre­neur­ial ex­cel­lence, which en­abled them to take their chil­dren to school.

An­other is­sue Le­hohla raised was that there was not enough space for ma­tric­u­lants to en­ter univer­sity be­cause there were peo­ple at univer­sity who did not grad­u­ate.

“Uni­ver­si­ties would be able to ac­com­mo­date more stu­dents, but there are some stu­dents who are past their sell-by date and are con­sti­pat­ing the sys­tem. The sys­tem needs to be un­blocked.”

He also said the Depart­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion was un­der­per­form­ing and not send­ing as many ma­tric­u­lants to uni­ver­si­ties as it should.

Re­gard­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion for all, Le­hohla said: “There’s no free ed­u­ca­tion, but cer­tainly, depend­ing on where the money comes from, where your tax goes and who pays, it should be pos­si­ble.”

Over­all, he said, ev­ery child had the right to ed­u­ca­tion, but the sins of the past had cre­ated a legacy that had been dif­fi­cult to break.

“What needs to be done is to res­cue those who are yet to be born.”

The Fees Com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma last Jan­uary to look into the fea­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing free higher ed­u­ca­tion.

This fol­lowed mas­sive protests at uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try, sparked by the #FeesMustFall cam­paign, which called for free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

The com­mis­sion will sit again to­mor­row, with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han ex­pected to tes­tify.

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